Friday, January 09, 2009

Charity Requests

The new year usually results in a lot of bad moods. It's understandable -- this is the time of year when most folks begin diets, quit smoking, give up alcohol, return to the grind of the day job, see the balance on their credit cards soar, hear all the dismal economic news, start worrying about filing their taxes and so on. I can't think of a month I like less than January.

Things are a bit worse all the way around this year, thanks to the recession, the stock market crisis and soaring unemployment. I've been getting flooded with public and private charity requests. There are a lot of people in need out there, there always are, but I expect it will escalate very rapidly in the months ahead.

I had to turn down a lot of folks this month who asked for donations or for me to post solicitations for donations here at PBW. I wish I could help everyone, but no one has unlimited resources, not even me. In the past I've used PBW a few times to promote causes I felt were deserving, but I really have to stop that now. People are getting upset with me for not automatically giving my support. They don't understand that if I did that, this place would eventually turn into Paperback Writer's Charity Blog.

I'm going back to the way I used to handle publishing charity-related/fund-raising activities, which was privately or anonymously. I've worked with a few of you out there on projects like that in the past, and I think you'll agree it's the best way for me to stay actively involved without raising unrealistic expectations or causing hurt feelings.

As my final charity request here at the blog, I'd like to remind everyone that although it's January, and everyone is in a bad mood, and many of you are also being flooded with requests, please don't let that to stop you from helping others. Doing your part doesn't have to be a big huge deal. If you have a couple of extra bucks in your Paypal account, donate it to someone in need. If money is tight, clean out your closets or your pantry and donate what you aren't using to a family shelter or a food bank. If you have a free afternoon, volunteer your time at a local school or library or hospital. But do what you can when you can, and stay involved.


  1. Anonymous3:54 AM

    Already done, PBW! Wise words, too.

    Donated to someone who lost everything...EVERYTHING, in a fire, days before they were to move.

    Friends helped us out when we were in a disaster of our own, so we try to repay their kindness forward when we can.

  2. Anonymous4:52 AM

    I'm actually getting frustrated at all the "gimme money" blog posts. For every person's medical bill or mortgage I donate to, five more blogs posts appear asking for more money. I don't want anyone to be forclosed on, or be stuck with six-figure hospital bills, but dammit, I can't pay everyone's rent and cover my bills too. I'm burned out and wanting a break.

  3. Nico, that's a terrific attitude to have. I lost one home to a tornado, and I know if it hadn't been for my family and friends we would never have recovered as quickly as we did. When everything you own is spread out over three counties, just having a change of clean clothing or a hairbrush can boost your spritis.

  4. That should read spirits, not spritis. Too early for me to leave Planet Typo, I think.

  5. CrispyFriedBroke, I share your frustration over not being able to help everyone in need. At times like these, the sheer number of people in trouble makes it seem like the problems are unsolvable, and we're tempted to give up.

    That's why it's important to do what you can when you can, and not just by donating money. Over the holidays I read an article about our local food banks struggling to meet demand, so one of the first things I did this year was clean out the pantry and donate some extra canned goods I had on hand.

    My daughter is in the middle of a growth spurt and has outgrown about half her wardrobe, so when she cleaned out her closet over holiday vacation I took her too-small clothes to an emergency family shelter in the city. They are always in desperate need of kids' clothing and now some other little girls will have some new outfits to wear. That makes a big difference to kids.

    Even tragedies can be turned around into something positive. We lost one of our pets to cancer a few days before Christmas, and the kids and I took the extra food we had on hand to a no-kill shelter. Visiting with the rescued animals and doing a little to help feed them made me feel a little better, and honored our pet's memory in the best way.

    You can't help everyone, and no one expects you to, but don't give up. Just keep doing what you can when you can.

  6. Another thing to remember with volunteer time is that, especially in the months post holidays, food banks lose a lot of volunteers.

    So while you may not have money, if you have extra time, it can also be used to help box up donations at the food bank as they are often short staffed after the holidays.

  7. Thank you for posting this. One thing you didn't mention is the guilt that goes along with not being able to help with or participate in all of them when asked.

  8. Observations, that's a good point. The season of giving brings a lot of people from church groups and community projects in to work on charitable projects, but once the holidays are over so is their involvement.

    I know what you mean about the guilt, Angela. I think it's the main contributor to our frustration, and one of the reasons we're often tempted to give up on helping people. If we avoid the problems out there, we don't have to feel guilty that we seem to have so much more in comparison.

    You can't make the guilt go away and I don't think I'd want to. It means we're aware of the suffering around us and, depressing as it can be, we have a strong emotional connection to others. If I felt nothing, it would mean I'd given up a part of my soul that I'm just not willing to surrender -- no matter how much it hurts that I can't fix everything and save everyone.

  9. Okay, call me strange, but I actually love the month of January the best of all. I love the feeling of having a fresh start. It's the idea that this time, this year, I'm going to get it right.

  10. Thanks for posting about this. I can definitely be difficult when there's someone asking for something everywhere you turn. Facing their disappoint when you don't have anything to give is difficult and I'm glad I'm not the only one having to say 'no'. I try to do what I can, but, like you said, it's not possible to help everyone who asks.

  11. I think a lot of people think about donating at Christmas-time, too, right when they are least able to, and that causes a lot of frustration.
    I am knitting hats and scarves to sell at my university, and depending on how it goes I'm going to make a small donation to local homeless shelters.
    Also, I like the point about the volunteering; it is very fulfilling and you meet many different people, which makes it better all around!
    ManiacScribbler =^..^=

  12. Well put and good advice to go by. Thanks for posting this. Let's also remember that when folks are grouchy or in the pit, a smile from one of us can go a long way.



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